It’s that time again — to get the fall plantings ready in the garden! But before I get too far into that, I must admit that my plans have again had a wrench tossed in the gears. Did you know that garden centers stop carrying seed packets by the first of August?! I did not know this, and this is the first year that I had no seeds left at home and needed to buy more for my fall plantings. So that means….
My only fall veggies this year are going to be beets, and green leaf lettuce. Because I could not find seed packets anywhere for spinach, arugula or green beans. The garden centers are sold out, and not restocking. Something to take note of for next year – double up on seed packets!!
Now then, moving on…
I’ve done away with the planting bed next to the patio, because it’s too shaded to grow much of anything besides lettuce and carrots. So for the Fall plantings, I’m utilizing one of my raised beds. I’ve removed the summer crop from the bed, turned the soil, and added fertilizer. Then I sowed beets and lettuce, and gave it a good watering.
As for the rest of my crop? The watermelon is vining out well now, and has a couple of cute baby watermelons growing. The pumpkin is definitely a little behind and is just now really starting to fill out the pot, but still isn’t vining. That is because it almost died a few weeks ago thanks to squash beetles (I got rid of the little jerks, but it stunted the growth of the pumpkin). They also got in the watermelon, but didn’t seem to effect it as badly. I used to grow a small field of pumpkins, and honestly never had trouble with squash beetles before — this was my first year with that experience.
The bell peppers and jalapenos are starting to produce more now, and I made my first batch of salsa last weekend for a date night treat (more on that coming up on the blog next week) with jalapenos and tomatoes from the garden. I also had to cut my sage and mint because they were growing absolutely wild! I have the sage drying so I can grind it up for winter use. The basil I started from seed is coming up nicely now as well, which is great because I use that more than any other herb. The strawberries are starting to fill in quite a bit too, and should be getting ready to bloom for a fall crop soon.
As for the tomatoes — they are looking so much better! I think just the fact that things are starting to dry out (finally) late in the season is helping pull back the anthracnose fruit rot. But in addition to that I purchased this copper fungicide from Amazon and have been spraying it directly onto the tomatoes once a week for the last couple of weeks. I’m seeing the tomatoes ripen beautifully without spots! I have this photo for comparison, with the before photo on the left and the now photo on the right:
While the copper fungicide is preferable to bleaching, it’s still important to wash the tomatoes before eating them. This is the one disappointment I’m facing, because I had no trouble at all with insects so up until this point I’d grown them entirely chemical-free. However, I have a method that I use to wash fruits and vegetables that works really well:
I place the produce in a large bowl, and sprinkle baking soda on to cover the top. Then, I pour on a lot of white vinegar; enough to cover almost half of the produce once it’s done fizzing. When the fizz has gone down, fill the rest with water until it just covers the produce. Then let it sit for up to 20 minutes (I do about 15 for strawberries and other soft fruits or veggies that don’t hold up as well to the acidity of the vinegar). There are some things that can’t really be washed this way, such as broccoli, because it absorbs some of the vinegar flavor. Most produce, however, will do just fine with this and it takes off so much gunk you’ll be shocked at what is floating on top of the water when it’s time to drain and rinse!
It’s once again time to sit back and wait for nature to do its job and sprout the seeds I’ve planted…with crossed fingers that the oppressive heat coming up this week doesn’t do any damage. In the meantime, I’ll continue to focus my attention on the tomatoes and hopefully get a good crop to finish out the summer growing season. If all goes well I should still be getting tomatoes into September…so fingers crossed!
Up next — the boys start school tomorrow! Hunter is off to high school and I can’t believe it! Photos and first day of school post coming soon!